A top Russian lawmaker has condemned Saturday's sizeable pro-Navalny protests which involved clashes with police across multiple cities including Moscow and St. Petersburg as "foreign-backed".
Andrey Klimov, the official who chairs the Senate's "Federation Council for the Protection of State Sovereignty and Prevention of Interference in Russia's Internal Affairs," told Rossiya-1 TV channel on Sunday:
"The commission [of the Federation Council] has reason to believe that the actions of foreign states are clearly behind all these events and all this is happening with the foreign specialists' assistance," according to TASS.
He alleged further the 'unauthorized' demonstrations at the urging of jailed Kremlin opposition leader Alexei Navalny were organized primarily on "foreign digital platforms and messengers."
"This is an illegal act itself," Klimov added. A separate statement from another top official said the commission is "ready to promptly examine the files about the possible involvement of foreign forces in disseminating calls to participate in unauthorized events in a number of social networks next weekend."
The means that further Navalny-related demonstrations, which there are sure to be more of according to his supporters both in Russia and the West, will be deemed "illegal" from the start, and further harsh crackdowns will ensue.
Protests are taking place across Russia today, calling for Navalny’s release.— Matthew Luxmoore (@mjluxmoore) January 23, 2021
This is Vladivostok, in the country’s Far East pic.twitter.com/luO4oudeH9
Over the weekend Russia's Foreign Ministry angrily denounced the fact that in the run-up to the Saturday protests the US Embassy in Moscow publicly posted times and meeting places for planned demonstrations at up to a dozen cities in Russia.
"All that coincides with Washington’s provocative doctrinal guidelines to encourage 'protests in the countries with unwanted governments'," the Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.
Very dark - @navalny says not to believe it if he “accidentally” dies in jail. “Just in case, I am announcing that I don’t plan to either hang myself on a window grill or cut my veins or throat open with a sharpened spoon. I use the stairs very carefully.” https://t.co/35yNgv8BtP— Mark MacKinnon (@markmackinnon) January 24, 2021
"Any attempts of this ‘coverage’ of unauthorized rallies will be regarded as gross interference in our country’s domestic affairs and will lead to a corresponding response," the statement added.